As children, Burt and Anton were picked on mercilessly for being different. They formed a common bond over magic and grew up to become headliners in Las Vegas. They've grown to hate each other, but the success of the act keeps them together. Now, with the arrival of Steve Gray, the edgiest street magician in the world, Burt and Anton's own success begins to dwindle. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is a hard film to discuss. It's a comedy without a lot of laughs about magicians who don't actually perform any impressive magic tricks during the running time of the film. It feels like a story written to make fun of Las Vegas-style magic acts by someone who has never even seen a birthday party magician perform in person. The screenplay by Jonathan M. Goldstein and John Francis Daley misses the mark every step of the way.
The actors don't fare much better in the film. Alan Arkin as DIY magic kit salesman Rance Holloway and Olivia Wilde as magician's assistant Jane have the most to work with but limited screen time. Their scenes are the funniest and they both get to perform some of the only engaging magic tricks in the film.
The trio of competing magicians played by Steve Carrell, Steve Buscemi, and Jim Carrey are under developed and boring. Steve Carrell's Burt is a jaded sex fiend with an over-inflated ego. Steve Buscemi's Anton is...weird looking? And Jim Carrey's Steve Gray is a 2013 reboot of In Living Color that goes on far too long to be funny. Their over the top choices make any character redemption arcs ineffective.
Even the look of the film is a total misfire. The design of the stage magic in Burt and Anton's show apes the style of Lance Burton's long running Vegas show but completely misses the mark. The purpose of elaborate sets and costuming is to misdirect the audience. Yet, in this film, there is no attempt at misdirection; what you see is what you get and every trick is obvious. In some way, the lack of quality is supposed to be part of the joke, but it's--again--so over the top in its poor execution that it zaps the humor from the concept.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone just falls flat as a film. The story, the characters, and the integration of magic just don't click in a meaningful way. It's a story about magicians with no wonder and a comedy with very few laughs to have.
Thoughts on The Incredible Burt Wonderstone? Share them below.